Thursday, June 18, 2015


Updated/Revised at 07:30 a.m.



The Stark County Report has learned from an off-the-record-as-to-identity source that the Ohio Democratic Party forced Ohio elections legal expert Don McTigue to withdraw from representing Democratic Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei.

Originally, Bernabei (a lawyer himself and serving many years as Canton's law director) held discussions with highly regarded Allen Schulman about representing him before the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) to quash a protest that has been filed seeking to deny his being certified as an independent candidate for mayor of Canton.

On the same day, Lee Plakas filed for the Stark and Ohio "organized" Democratic Parties, the SCPR talked with Schulman about reports that he would be representing Bernabei.

From the SCPR's May 29th blog:

Like Don McTigue has done for the Ohio Democratic Party, Allen Schulman has represented the Stark County Democratic Party.

He represented the Stark Democrats and the-then chairman Randy Gonzalez in litigation filed filed by sheriff aspirant Lou Darrow with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to have the high court prohibit the Stark Dems from proceeding on February 5, 2013 on allegations that George T. Maier lacked sheriff qualifications under Ohio law.

Maier was one of a number of candidates including Darrow seeking the party's appointment to succeed the too-ill to take office Sheriff-elect Mike McDonald (November, 2012) who passed away on February 22nd.

While that action failed, the Ohio Supreme Court did on November 6, 2013 find that Maier was not qualify for the February 5, 2013 Stark Dems appointment.

Interesting enough, Ohio Democratic official Bill DeMora read a letter from McTigue  - on 12/11/2013 during the second proceeding to reappoint a McDonald successor - attesting to Maier's qualifications.

In a somewhat ironic note, Bernabei did support a Maier request (as a county official; supported by the-then Stark Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez) of having elections expert legal counsel McTigue hired by the Stark County commissioners to represent Maier at the cost of some 8,000 taxpayer dollars to represent Maier in the Secretary of State/Ohio Supreme Court phase of local Massillon Democrat Cynthia Balas-Bratton's challenge with the Stark Board of Elections of the certifiability of Maier for the November, 2014 general election.

However, Republicans Janet Creighton and Richard Regula refused to join Bernabei's effort.

Both Schulman and McTigue are knee-deep in Stark County and Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) politics in their respective Canton and Columbus haunts.

In recent days, (remember on May 29th Schulman is saying that McTigue will be doing the representing) the SCPR is told, that McTigue was contacted by ODP officials and was advised to withdraw from representing Bernabei in view of his long time relationship with the party in providing legal advice and legal representation.

So what has happened over the course of two weeks or so that made what was seemingly okay all of sudden not okay?

And get this.

None of the longstanding and close ODP/McTigue connection had anything whatsoever to do with Tom Bernabei and, accordingly, there would be no attorney/client confidences being at risk in McTigue and members of his firm (i.e. partner Colombo who had sent the Stark BOE announcing his representation of Bernabei in the protest action) handling the protest matter.

The Report is told that the ODP was asked to waive any technical bas├Ęs on which their request of withdrawal was made of McTigue but apparently Chairman Pepper refused.

While Schulman denies being pressured by Stark Dems to opt out representing Bernabei, the SCPR thinks he is protecting those who are upset with incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II being challenged by a former Democrat for a third term.

The SCPR is now being supplied with names of Stark County Democrats who take umbrage at the putative Bernabei candidacy.

The Report thinks this has to mean that Schulman was hearing from some of these folks, one of whom is a prominent sitting Stark County judge.

Allen Schulman is a stand up guy insofar as the SCPR is concerned.

But he is also a highly skilled political tea leaves reader.

And the McTigue referral was the perfect way out or so it seemed at the time.

Nobody is talking about William J. Healy, II perhaps having a role in the ODP all of a sudden taking an interest in forcing McTigue out.

Healy spends a lot of time in Columbus.  Last year he was the president of the Ohio Municipal League headquartered in Columbus.

He was also involved in the Chris Redfern fight to remain as party chairman of the Columbus  based ODP several years ago.

The Ohio Democratic Party injected itself into the Healy/Perez Democratic primary face off on May 5th in endorsing Healy.  Such is a rare intervention indeed!

The SCPR smells a rat in the political woodpile fomenting political havoc and his name likely is William J. Healy, II.

The political party venue is the perfect place for Stark County's most accomplished politico to flourish.

Political parties are known to be havens for the likes of Healy who demonstrates little if any leadership ability in terms of actually producing on the job.  But in the wheeling and dealing backroom world of political parties, he is a virtuoso.

If Bernabei gets on the ballot, Healy's political career is over.  No doubt about it.

These are days of desperation for the man who is the envy of a cat with nine lives.

Healy has been a survivor in many of self-inflicted problems over his nearly eight years in office.

He survives but Canton continues to nosedive notwithstanding all the buzz about Utica shale, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village among various other feel good projects that the self-promoting Healy has tried to capitalize upon over his tenure as mayor.

With Healy it has always been about the two slices of bread with no beef as Clara of advertising fame (Where's the beef!) put it.

While Healy was nowhere to be seen yesterday at the Stark BOE and is seeming uninvolved in the fight to keep Bernabei off the ballot, do not believe it.

His sister Joyce (a 2012 District 7 congressional candidate) was there.

Interesting, very interesting, no?

So where does all this Schulman/McTigue hubbub leave Bernabei in his quest to obtain representation?

Stay tuned.

The Report understands that there is a McTigue wannabe out there in the hinterlands of Ohio and it appears that Tom Bernabei is determined to find that person.

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